Business and Economy

Business news

PORTLAND, Maine - New numbers from the online short-term rental marketplace Airbnb show that about 174,000 people used the service in Maine 2016.  The company says that's a 100 percent increase from the year before. "Hosts," as they're called, in Maine, earned more than $26 million last year.

The majority of those rentals were in Portland, where about 51,000 people rented Airbnb's -- earning owners about $7 million.

The other top markets were Bar Harbor, South Portland, Ellsworth and Old Orchard Beach.

As President Donald Trump prepares to rewrite his controversial travel ban, a coalition of 500 business leaders and mayors is calling for meaningful immigration reform.

The group, New American Economy, has released an interactive map with state and congressional district-specific data about the economic contributions of immigrants. Supporters are hoping that it will bolster the argument for expanding immigrant worker visas.

DURHAM, N.H. - New Hampshire's maple syrup producers say they are feeling the impact of climate change, as winters become warmer and frigid nights so critical to their business become fewer.

Producers joined climate experts and Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire on Tuesday to talk about the state's changing climate and how it is affecting one of the state's most important industries.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine agency that holds the state's tourism account is picking up another high-profile client.
Nancy Marshall Communications has been named the agency of record for The Orvis Company, the fly-fishing retailer based in Vermont.

Scallops Scuffle Pitting Small Boats Against Big

Feb 20, 2017
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A disagreement over the right to fish for scallops off of New England is pitting small boats against big boats in one of the most lucrative fisheries in the U.S.
The federal government maintains different rules for the small- and big-boat fisheries, though they work some of the same areas. Small boat fishermen say the conflict has arisen in the northern Gulf of Maine, a fishing area stretching roughly from Boston to Canada.

Poland Spring is looking to expand.

A continuing surge in the sale of bottled water has the company looking for two new sources of spring water and making plans for a fourth bottling facility somewhere in western Maine or northeast of Bangor.

Last summer, Progressive stirred controversy by asking to raise auto insurance premiums for older Mainers based solely on their age. Legislation is before lawmakers to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa proposed clarifying language to the current law.

“Prohibition on refusal to issue solely because an applicant ages is 65 or over, and a clarification that the prohibitions against discriminatory rating practice apply to new applicants as well as existing insured,” he says.

STACYVILLE, Maine — An Alabama company has bought a closed power plant in Maine.

The Press Herald reports that an Alabama-based company called 42 Railroad Ave LLC agreed to buy a biomass power plant in Stacyville from Niagara Worldwide for an unspecified amount. Sherman Development last operated the plant.

Steven Johnson, the company’s CEO, says he plans to rebuild the turbine in an attempt to produce more than 100 tons of activated carbon each day.

LL Bean Offers Employee Buyouts, Ends Contributions to Pension Plan

Feb 10, 2017
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

FREEPORT, Maine — L.L. Bean announced on Thursday that it would offer voluntary buyouts to eligible employees in 2018, discontinue contributions to the company’s pension plan and expand its parental leave benefit.

PORTLAND, Maine - Some Maine fishermen say a proposal to create a new lottery system to allow people into the state's big-money baby eel fishery is the best way to keep the industry sustainable.
Baby eels are a prized resource in Maine, where they are fished from rivers and streams and sold to Asian aquaculture companies. The baby eels, or elvers, can sell for more than $2,000 per pound.
The eels eventually get raised to adulthood and turned into food, such as sushi.

Tom Porter / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine - The head of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Chris Hall, is stepping down. 

Hall says in his 10 years of working at the chamber, including the past four as CEO, membership has remained stable, while advocacy has grown.   

"Evidence of that was our victory in 2015, when we stepped up to oppose that $15 an hour minimum wage, which was just too far, too fast," he says.

PORTLAND, Maine - Sappi paper has announced a $165 million investment in its Somerset Mill in Skowhegan.  

Sappi President Steve Binnie told analysts on a conference call that the company is continuing to grow the parts of the paper business that are profitable.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine fishing regulators are implementing targeted closures in several scallop fishing areas to try to protect the valuable shellfish from over-harvest.

The state Department of Marine Resources says the closures will take place in Casco Bay, Upper Damariscotta River, North Haven and mid-Penobscot Bay as well as the Lower Blue Hill Bay and Jericho Bay area and the Chandler Bay and Head Harbor area.

Pat Wellenbach / Associated Press

For decades, waiters and waitresses in Maine restaurants have relied on etiquette for tips — 15-20 percent, depending on the quality of service and food. But some in the industry say that time-honored practice is now being ignored by many customers, now that Maine has a new minimum wage law.

BANGOR, Maine - New business could be touching down soon at Old Town Municipal Airport. But to make that happen, community leaders are asking Republican 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin to strip off some deed restrictions from 15 acres of former federal property that was acquired by the facility 30 years ago. 

Poliquin says he plans on submitting legislation immediately to assist the airport.